Updated: Mar 15
Almost 20 years ago as a teenage father Terrence A. Taylor, better known as Tat, decided to really engage with his hometown of Decatur. He wanted to be involved in bettering where he lived not only for himself, but others who grew up near him and, most importantly, for his young daughter.
When Tat was growing up, other than his parents, he didn’t really see young, African American, influencers. He wanted to change that and be present in people’s lives. Stepping out of his comfort zone, Tat picked up the community newspaper and a locally produced magazine called Thrive scouring for activities where he thought his point of view could make a difference and simply started showing up. He didn’t wait to be asked. And, he was often the only person in the room under 30, the only person of color and the only person who grew up in his part of the city.
Speaking to him now, it’s hard to believe that he is the same self-described, shy kid whose biggest aspirations were to be a radio DJ. Starting with a studio in the closet of his bedroom where his sister was a big get for an interview and the greatest worry he had was finding the perfect on-air name, Tat has expanded those dreams much farther not only for himself but for hundreds if not thousands in his circle.
Tat has done and continues to do it all – school family support coordinator; Decatur schools 2.0 mentor; board member for Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers/Big Sisters; Beautify Decatur committee member and volunteer; DJ and #1 Decatur radio personality. He firmly believes that what you put out is what you get back out of each day and each interaction.
In recent years, Tat’s roles have expanded geographically. O’Shea Builders in Springfield asked him to be the face of their campaign geared to attracting more minorities to construction trades jobs and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has made him the DJ for all Illini sporting events. Even with all of this, he continues to focus on mentoring, believing the best way to help our youth is by connecting, correcting and directing.
Tat and long-time friend Bennie Smith, Jr. are in the process of opening another mentoring venture. The Suite 704 is a place where young adults can begin to realize their radio and video broadcast dreams in a place built just for them.
Joy. Positivity. Love. Tat. He chooses Illinois because he knows that by working together we will all be better.
Learn more about Tat on this week’s I Choose Illinois Podcast.